Responses to some of the most frequently asked questions (FAQs) are listed below.
If you have any additional comments or questions about this project, please feel free to contact the study team at any point during this study. Contact information can be found on the Contact Us page of this website.
1) Why are four lanes required along this section of Highway 69?
Four-laning of Highway 69 will provide benefits to local residents and business owners, other Ontario motorists and visitors to the area. Specifically it will:
- Improve the safety of Highway 69 by reducing congestion and making passing easier, providing controlled access to the roadway, and separating northbound and southbound traffic with a median.
- Improve travel times between northern and southern urban centres.
- Improve access to areas already developed, allowing for continued development and growth of the local tourist and recreational sector.
- Reduce the likelihood and duration of road closures due to roadway maintenance and collision investigations.
2) What is the purpose of this Detail Design project?
The purpose of this Detail Design project is to develop contract documents, finalize environmental mitigation measures, and obtain outstanding approvals.
3) How will Detail Design improvements be assessed?
Improvements are assessed in co-ordination with project staff, relevant external agencies / interest groups and the general public. Federal agencies include: the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Transport Canada (TC), Environment Canada (EC) and Heritage Canada. Provincial agencies include: the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF), Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (MOECC), Ministry of Culture (MCL), Ontario Parks, Ministry of Tourism/Recreation and Ontario Provincial Police. Local municipalities, local Road Boards, Sustainable Forest License holders, Snowmobile Clubs, Interest Groups and the general public have also been engaged throughout the assessment process.
4) What Detail Design improvements are being examined?
Design improvements will be explored for the following elements along this section of Highway 69:
- Interchange ramps
- Bridge structures
- Access roads
- Service roads
- Highway profile
- Snowmobile crossings
Although preferred concepts were identified for each of these design elements noted above during Preliminary Design, improvement alternatives are being considered.
5) How will this project build on the issues and commitments identified in the Route Planning Study?
A number of issues were identified in the Route Planning Report that required further consultation with external agencies.
For example, opportunities to enhance vistas of the French and Pickerel River valleys were considered. Aesthetic values of the new bridge designs have been reviewed by Ontario Parks and Heritage Canada. Future signage for the French River Provincial Park Visitors Centre were discussed with Ontario Parks.
The MNRF has been consulted regularly regarding environmental issues and potential mitigation measures, including opportunities for wildlife crossings (eco-passages), vegetation protection measures, biodiversity recycling, and sustainable forest harvesting. These discussions will ensure all necessary environmental protection and mitigation measures are incorporated into the contract packages.
6) Why has the project been split into phases?
The Detail Design was initially packaged into three phases to correspond with the proposed construction phasing running from north to south. Implementing Highway improvements in phases allows traffic onto sections of newly constructed infrastructure, thereby facilitating safety and operational improvements as efficiently as possible. In addition, phasing project works ensures that activities such as clearing trees and vegetation removal do not conflict with environmental protection requirements (i.e. bird nesting), and better facilitates utility relocations in advance of the main grading contracts.
Advance tree clearing has been completed for all three phases. Construction of the main grading contract for Phase 1 commenced in September 2012, and is anticipated to be completed in the summer of 2016. The main grading for Phases 2 and 3 will be combined into a single construction contract.
7) How will this Detail Design assignment be documented?
The first Design and Construction Report (DCR) was completed and filed for public viewing in July/August 2008 for the Phase 1 main grading contract and included the advance clearing contract for all three phases. The second DCR has been completed and is now available for public review. DCR #2 documents how the commitments made in the Route Planning and Environmental Assessment Report were addressed.
8) What is the expected timing of construction?
Advance tree clearing has been completed for all three phases. Construction of the main grading contract for Phase 1 commenced in September 2012, with an anticipated completion date of summer of 2016.
9) What happens to homes located along the recommended alignment?
Although the recommended alignment was selected to minimize any impact to local residents, some properties and houses are required to allow four-laning to proceed. Those directly affected by the four-laning have been contacted by staff from the Ministry’s Property Section.
10) How will communities along the highway be impacted?
During the Route Planning Study, the public and municipalities were consulted to ensure that community impacts were minimized to the extent possible.
To minimize impacts on existing concentrations of development along the Highway 69 corridor, consideration was given to four-laning Highway 69 on a new alignment to avoid these communities. Highway travelers will be able to safely access community nodes from both directions at interchanges.
11) How much does four-laning cost?
On average, it costs $10 million per kilometer, plus an additional $8 to $12 million per interchange to build a four-lane highway in Northern Ontario. The proposed four-laning of Highway 69 represents a significant investment in northern infrastructure and economic development.
12) How will access between communities and area destinations be accommodated?
The need to maintain access between communities and area destinations has been an important consideration in developing the recommended alignment. Access will be provided through a combination of interchanges, new service roads and the existing road network.
13) How will the snowmobile trail system be maintained during and following construction?
The Project Team has carried forward commitments to maintain the continuity of the snowmobile trail system identified in the Route Planning Report, and has consulted with local snowmobile clubs throughout Detail Design. Construction staging will consider trail use and the need for temporary measures (trail crossings, signing, fencing etc.).
14) How do you minimize impacts to local residents during construction?
Contractors hired by the MTO to build new highways are required to protect affected residents during the construction period by maintaining access and dealing with noise and dust issues. The Contractor utilizes measures such as: acceptable daily hours of operation to minimize noise levels and treating gravel road surfaces to prevent excessive dust.
15) How do you minimize impacts to the traveling public during construction?
Ideally, construction of the new four-lane highway will occur away from the existing traffic flow. In situations where construction must occur on the existing highway, restrictions on the number and duration of operations are defined in the Contract.